The Segal Centre for Performing Arts and KPMG are will present the North American premiere of Waiting for the Barbarians by Nobel Prize winning author J.M. Coetzee, a co-production with Mopo Cultural Trust and in association with the Baxter Theatre Centre (South Africa). Adapted and directed by Alexandre Marine and produced by Maurice Podbrey, CM, the play premiered to critical and audience acclaim at Cape Town's Baxter Theatre Centre in August 2012, and will be presented at the Segal Theatre from January 27th to February 17th, 2013.
Creation Without Borders
Acknowledged worldwide as one of 20th Century's great novels, South-African born J.M. Coetzee's provocative tale of political intrigue has been adapted for the stage for the first time by award-winning, Montreal-based Russian director Alexandre Marine. Assembling a stellar lineup of South Africa's best young talent, the original South-African production will be re-mounted on the Segal stage in the centre's first international co-production.
The Invisible Enemy
Set in a frontier town on The Edge of an unnamed Empire, Waiting for the Barbarians is told from the perspective of the Magistrate (Grant Swanby), a loyal civil servant living in tranquility. When reports of a threat from the "Barbarians," who inhabit the uncharted desert beyond the border, cause the government to declare a state of emergency, the military launches a campaign to capture these enemies. As the Magistrate bears witness to the cruel acts of violence perpetrated in the name of defence the Empire, while forming a relationship with a young barbarian girl (Charlene Chiedza Kudzai Mhende), he is faced with whether or not to intervene. What results is a gripping journey to the darkside of humanity that asks, just who are the Barbarians?
Crime and Punishment
A story that is part mythical, part psychological, Waiting for the Barbarians addresses startling political and philosophical issues of power and justice through one man's crisis of conscious, a struggle reminiscent of those in Dostoyevsky's great novels.
"This remarkable novel by South Africa's Nobel Prize winning author, J.M. Coetzee, combines a deep rootedness in African history with an almost Dostoevskian obsession with self-understanding. Marvelously, we now have a company of South Africa's leading actors combined with Russian born director Alexandre Marine to bring this story to the stage," says producer Maurice Podbrey.
A Triumphant Return
Recipient of the distinguished Artist of Russia award, Marine has directed over seventy productions in Moscow, Montreal, New York and Tokyo. A founding member of the Tabakov Theatre in Russia and founding Artistic Director of Théâtre Deuxième Réalité in Montréal, Marine makes a long-awaited return to the Segal Centre after directing Dangerous Liaisons (2008) and the Prix de la Critique award-winning Amadeus (2007). Taking on the adaptation of the text, the directing and the lighting, Marine's all-encompassing vision, infused with a vivid sense of imagery and movement lifts Coetzee's text into a challenging, captivating and evocative piece of theatre.
Alexandre's 28-year-old son, Dmitri Marine, has emerged as an accomplished and widely travelled young composer and once again collaborates with his father to create the music score for the play. Set and costume design by South-African based designer and performing artist Craig Leo completes this dynamic production.
Theatre fans will also rejoice at the Montreal return of veteran producer Maurice Podbrey. Member of the Order of Canada, Mr. Podbrey is one of the pioneers of English theatre in Montreal, co-founding Centaur Theatre in 1969 where he remained as Artistic Director until 1997. He returned to his native South Africa 14 years ago to form Mopo Cultural Trust, a company dedicated to the development of new theatrical talent. Maurice divides his time happily between Cape Town and Montreal, which he continues to call home.
For this project, he collaborated with one of Cape Town's major performing arts institutions, the Baxter Theatre Centre, which presented this world-premiere production of Waiting for the Barbarians from August 16th to September 1st, 2012.
About J.M. Coetzee
South-African born J.M. Coetzee is the author of thirteen works of fiction including Waiting for the Barbarians (1980) and Disgrace (1999). He has also published memoirs, literary criticism and translations and has led a distinguished academic career, teaching at the University of Capetown, the University of Chicago, Harvard, Johns Hopkins and Stanford University. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2003 and is a two-time recipient of the Booker Prize. He now resides in Adelaide, Australia.